My Takeaways From The Book Scrum by Jeff Sutherland

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 12:21 PM with 2 comments

Imagine a workplace where not only you can work without impediments to your progress, but one where you have a say in what and how you do it? And to top of it you’re much more productive and successful and so is your ultimate business customer.

So what’s the catch? You simply have to drop the current way you work and adopt something called Scrum.

What is Scrum? The origins of the word come from the sport rugby, where a tight formation of players move and work together to get the ball forward. The term Scrum here has its origins on software development, where a small team of people work closely together to build software. The difference is in how they build it – using an iterative cycle of a few usable features at a time rather than defining everything upfront, then months (or years) later receiving software with all of the features.

The later process I described above is commonly referred to as “waterfall.” As one giant cycle produces all software (or the falling water) and the remaining project time is used to fix bugs and make changes in the business process (or the water flowing from the waterfall). It is far from a perfect system, especially as it doesn’t take into consideration business changes, let alone end users not always knowing what they want, both upfront or a year from now!

The former process I described above is Scrum, and was created in the 1990’s by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. This book, Scrum: Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, is written by Sutherland, and presented in a format to introduce Scrum to the wider world outside of software.

As someone who has built software all of my professional career and then some and has used scrum formally in some of my past roles, I was interested to read this book, not only because it is written by one of the co-founders of Scrum, but to learn more how it can be used in other aspects of business and life.

Among my many thoughts from reading Scrum, I have the following takeaways:

  • Building software – or anything really – is a journey – It’s hard to be perfect and know upfront everything you will possibly need in software you will use. Rather, admit it is a journey, build it over time, and get it closer to your needs while getting functioning features along the way.
  • You have to be committed to Scrum to reap its true potential – Dipping your toes in the Scrum swimming pool will not give you the benefits of it. You have to fully commit to it. If you are hesitant to commit, read the book.
  • If you don’t do it someone else will – Scrum as a framework is always gaining in popularity, and the number of people becoming certified in Scrum as well. If you or your organization is resistant to it, realize more organizations are always adopting it.
  • I want to be Scrum Certified more now than before – after reading the book and hearing Sutherland’s stories of Scrum’s successes in business and beyond, I really want to take formal Scrum training and become certified more than I did before reading the book.

Scrum: Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time is a great read, for those who work in business or any organization. I wish I had this book years ago when I was starting my Web consulting business – not just for building the Web software but for the overall running of my business. It is packed with stories of its successful use in various industries. Though it is very supportive of Scrum, it is not a “fluffy” and rah-rah story – it gets straight to the point and reinforces all that is stated. The book concludes with a step-by-step plan for deploying Scrum.

This is the part of my book takeaways where I disclose why I read a book. As I said, when I heard of it, I needed to get it and bought it myself, and for 2 reasons. The first and most important is that I wanted to read the story. The second and anecdotal reason is that I once worked at the same company as Jeff Sutherland, and we once had a brief work-related phone call. As I read Scrum, I could hear his no-nonsense style, which added to the reading.

As I conclude this post, I have not decided whom to give the book to, as it is something I do after I read one. If you are interested let me know. If you have read the book, or based on this are interested to, I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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photo of television test pattern art at Columbia College in Chicago

Where the Anchorman movies were a good laugh, weaved in between the puns was a story of both the “golden age” of local broadcast television and the genesis of cable television, which had a transformative effect on local television.

As I grew up in western Massachusetts, the local TV station to watch was WWLP channel 22 in Springfield, MA. It was an NBC affiliate who consistently was the ratings leader for news and local programming. Part of that local programming included editorials by the station’s president, Bill Putnam, which were highly informative, opinionated and entertaining. When I heard that Putnam and his then business partner (and now wife) Kitty Broman Putnam wrote a memoir about the formation and the behind-the-scenes of the operations of WWLP, I had to get a copy of it. That memoir, How We Survived in UHF Television A Broadcasting Memoir 1953-1984, includes insider information and photos about not only the founding of the TV station, but the UHF television band and entities like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Though there are many tales which are local to western Massachusetts, from places to politicians, it is a book for anyone who is interested in broadcast communications and its history. For someone like myself who is interested in that and local history in general, it is an interesting tale, spanning over 30 years, of the creation, evolution and positioning of a local television station during a time when broadcast television was evolving and positioning as well. It was of course interesting to learn the why’s and what-else’s about the TV station that I probably spent too much time watching during my own evolution and positioning.

Learning the “inside baseball” of WWLP (whose call letters come from Putnam’s full name, William Lowell Putnam) was of course a great takeaway for me from this book, but there were others that make this an interesting read for others, including:

  • Entrepreneurial ventures come different forms - When you think of a business labeled with the word “entrepreneur” one often thinks of a small space with a shoestring budget in a remote office. This was the case with WWLP, whose studios were atop a mountain and was built by Putnam and other staff. Where what you saw on TV looked polished and expensive, it was far from that, and the station also had a stable of investors who help funded the lean operation. Plus in those days, long before high-definition television, studio sets could have been made of cardboard colored by markers and you wouldn’t know the difference.
  • The tools are always getting better - This is a term I use quite a bit, especially when describing the evolution of my former Web consulting business, where changes in technology often drove changes in the business model. The same can be said for television, whether it was in broadcast transmitters or from black and white to color pictures. Being aware of these changes and having the capital – both money and time – to address and adapt to them is important in the survival and thriving of any business.
  • You’ve got to know when to fold ‘em - Putnam, Broman and company sold WWLP in the mid-1980’s and got out of broadcasting altogether. This was in the early days of the large expansion of cable TV across the US. Though local broadcast stations would get their signal carried on the cable, the revenue model for those same local stations was not defined, nor was it understood what the real impact of cable would be on broadcast. With this on the horizon, Putnam got out of the business early, at a time when he was able to sell for a good profit.

Though How We Survived… hasn’t made many national top-seller lists, it is an entertaining read. It starts technical where Putnam goes into the definitions of what the story of people and places is about. It then ends with recipes by Kitty Broman, who in addition to her leadership role hosted a daily TV show. One thing the book doesn’t do is get into too much detail about all of the various on-air personalities, and only mentions a few of them. One is Bill Rasmussen, who was the sports director at WWLP prior to founding ESPN.

As I do with all of the books I read, I like to give them to others. I am giving this to my friend Tom, as he grew up watching WWLP like myself, and lived near the access road to the mountain-top studios.

Have I convinced you to read this book? Have you read it? I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book One Word That Will Change Your Life

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, February 06, 2015 at 04:52 PM with 0 comments

Goals by nature are complex. At least that’s how I see them. As they segue to an action plan to achieve them, they must be clear and not too wordy, yet not vague or they will lose their meaning. Often times goals are “boiled-down” to a phrase or even one word for marketing and promotional purposes as a simple rally cry to those who are a stakeholder to these goals.

In the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page (not the guitarist), they propose you simply have 1 word as an overall goal for yourself for a year. They present a rather simplistic yet thoughtful process by looking inward, opening yourself up to discovering the word, then applying it to your year.

As I read this several takeaways came to me, including:

  • You need to find a process that works for you – The steps in this book may work for you, and also they may not. Sometimes it takes a book like this to help you though such a process.
  • Divine intervention is not for everyone – The book is based on faith in God in order to open one’s self to ”receive” their word for the year. This may be a turn-off for some, perhaps those who do not believe in a supreme deity. That being said, if you are a spiritual person, you can still follow this process without acknowledging a god to open up and find your word.
  • Maybe simple is all you need? – If you are typically someone who does not set goals, or are someone who belabors the process to do so, following a simple process in this short book may be exactly what you need.

As simple as the concept is for One Word, the book is as short. It was written to be read in less than an hour, and tells a good story on how the concept was formed, how it works and how it has been used by others. One Word was another book I owned and found when I moved – note there are more to come! I don’t recall the inspiration for getting it, but my guess it was its process meaning around goal-setting.

So I set a phrase and not a word

As I started 2015, I thought about this book that I had read a while back and decided to open up and see if I could come to a word to guide me through the year. As I reflected on where I was and what I was doing, what came to me was not 1 word but 3, and after trying to come up with a good 1 word for the 3, I decided to stick with the 3 – mix it up. As I am creeping up to my sixth decade on this planet, I often find myself getting a little stodgy and repetitive. I could be going to the same stores or reading the same blogs and sites or simply doing the same thing. Why not mix it up, expose myself to new things, foods, places, people, even if the change is slight. This way, I am making small, incremental changes in my life, which won’t seem as obvious while in the process.

For myself, I will use the hashtag #mixitup to mark things new and different for me.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on the concept of One Word and the book itself. Have your goals so far this year been a challenge and you’re looking for something new? Or have you followed One Word and chose your own? Please share in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Quick Poll – What Is The Work You Do Really To You?

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 02, 2014 at 11:15 PM with 6 comments

Is the work you do a vocation, career or simply a job?

This is the question I am asking in this quick poll. As I am reading the book 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal by Dan Miller, this question is the activity of day 6 of the 48, where one is supposed to discuss this with 2 people about what they do for work and if it is a vocation or their calling, part of the progression of their career path or if it is merely a job where they are collecting a paycheck.

I have decided to go wide with this query and am asking all readers of this post to answer this poll. In addition, I am interested in the discussion of why you made your selection and welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post. As the comments are moderated, you may respond anonymously, and providing you are not spamming the comments with ads for knock-off merchandise, I will post them.

Thank you in advance, and I am eager to see your votes as well as your comments as to if what you do for work is a vocation, career or job.

Please make your selection below - if you cannot see the poll question please answer the poll here.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Who Moved My Cheese?

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM with 0 comments

photo of What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

I was aware of the book Who Moved My Cheese? for some time, yet I had no idea what the story was about. When I found the book after moving, I decided to take it and give it a read. It was a short book yet it was packed with a powerful message to me.

Written by Dr. Spencer Johnson, the co-author of The One Minute Manager (yet another book I have not read, but I digress) Who Moved My Cheese? is a story of people telling the story and discussing “who moved my cheese?” and what they took away from it. When you read the story it's hard not to put yourself into the characters of the story, whether it’s those who are hearing the story or those who are in the story “who moved my cheese?” Interestingly, the discussion of the story takes place in Chicago.

After putting down the book, my takeaways were very obvious to me.

  • Everything is in constant change – whether we realize it or not, things are always changing. This may be obvious for some things but for many things in our lives it probably isn't as obvious as others, yet we need to be aware of all change.
  • Laugh at yourself – This is something I have always felt that I was really good at, but it's something that when you go down a certain path you may forget to do. By stepping back and taking yourself out of the situation, it will help you see things much clearer and allow you the opportunity to laugh at it a little bit.
  • Be the “haw” – The character “Haw” in the story Who Moved My Cheese? is the hero, the one who decided to move on when things were bad. His line in the story about what you would do if you weren't afraid is something to take to heart.
  • It's never too late to change – Even if things are very bad and you don't think there's an opportunity to change, there is a choice to make to remain where you are or get out and move on.

Granted this isn't the only book that has ever been written about picking up and moving on, but I think it tells it in a way that it realizes the struggles people have with just doing that and spells it out in a way that makes it easier for you to relate to it.

At 96 pages, Who Moved My Cheese? is an extremely quick read and I read it in about an hour. Though the book was originally published in 1998, it is a timeless story and very relevant today for what I'm doing and what other people I know are doing. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the book. As I am done reading it, if you would like my copy please let me know and I'll share it with you.

I welcome your thoughts on the book Who Moved My Cheese? in the comments of this post. Was it a good story for you, or a silly read, or something else?


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Social Nation

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 10, 2011 at 09:23 AM with 0 comments

“They just don’t get it” is a phrase I hear a lot when people who work in social media talk about people or companies that are new, struggling or resistant to being immersed in social media. Part of this frustration on those who are consumers or consultants is around the educational component of it. Part of the frustration of those who don’t know or understand social media is the complete need to be educated on something that, in many cases, is altogether new to them. Thus there is a need for education to make everyone’s lives easier.

Educating people on social media, from organizational cultural change to actually tweeting and everything else in between and around it is the talk in Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business, a book by Barry Libert. The author presents a good book in Social Nation on what social media is, and does a great explanation that it is not just a plug into an organization, rather in some cases how it drives change and thinking of what an organization actually does.

As a believer, practitioner and “walk the talker” of social media, did I have takeaways from this book? Surely. And many of these are driven by interactions with clients and prospective clients with regards to their approach to social media.

Getting into social media today is more complicated than getting into the Web in its early days – I recall fondly building my first commercial Web sites for clients going back to the mid 1990’s. Back then it involved a lot of education and there were always new and changing elements. Today it seems like all that is involved in social media, still in its infancy, is much more comprehensive, intricate and to some complicated than the Web’s infancy. Working with one firm for a Web site may have been all you needed then, today you may work with one offering many services, or many offering just one.

Explaining it is not enough and may not always be relevant – just like businesses need to define their niche, social media needs to be articulated to that niche for it to truly be understood. In the book, Libert gives examples about Zappos, Apple, Google and Ducati, but very few about small to mid-sized businesses. These are good examples, but as I can see using his book as one to offer to a client or a prospect client to digest, more relevant issues to less than large companies are more relevant to a small business, especially as I see more copies of this book being read by entrepreneurs than corporate executives.

You need to talk to everyone – Often people think being a social company is just talking to customers, when it should be to talk to everyone, including all employees, partners, investors, etc. Having a common voice to all will make communication overall easier.

Social Nation is a good primer for a business or individual currently not using social media, or is personally but not professionally. It is not for someone already engaged or working with social media, such as myself, as the book is preaching to the proverbial choir at that point. Although saying that, the accompanying Web site to the book, at socialnationbook.com - offers a unique and interesting social quotient (SQ) test. Coming off of reading StrengthsFinder 2.0, this was a similar experience. So what is my SQ? The 3 words that were presented to me after the quiz were Visionary, Creative Thinker and Transparent. You can take the quiz yourself, and there is no charge for it.


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My Takeaways From The Book StrengthsFinder 2.0

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 04:45 PM with 2 comments

Previously I talked about playing to your strengths. This doesn’t mean being complacent and not growing yourself. Hardly, it says rather than focusing solely on being super humanoids, let’s look at what we do best and leverage the heck out of it.

Among all the self-help business books out there is one which focuses on this – helping you identify your strengths and how to use them to your advantage. StrengthsFinder 2.0 is from the Gallup Organization. It is the second edition of a book which came out from the poll people in 1998. This book was recommended to me by a colleague and I bought my own copy of the book.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 comes with a single-use code for an accompanying Web site. The main feature of the site is the assessment. It is a survey which takes about a half hour to respond to all questions, and upon completion it gives you a list of your top 5 strengths, which come from a pre-defined list of 34. I took the assessment test first then read the book, upon my colleague's recommendation, rather than reading the book first. He recommends this approach so that the person who takes the assessment will have no preconceived notions of what the results will be.

After taking the Web-based assessment, here’s my top 5 strengths:

cover of StrengthsFinder 2..0 with Mike’s strengths

The above photo is of the cover of the book, where you can write your strengths after removing the dust jacket. If you don’t see the photo, my top 5 strengths are: Activator, Adaptability, Relator, Connectedness, and Responsibility.

Now What?

After I got my results from the assessment, I sat back and took a look at the 5 words given to me. At first glance, they were not a complete shock or surprise to me. I like to think I know myself pretty well, and coupled with what others have said to me about me, these were in line with what I would expect from such an assessment. That being said, I did not know specifically these would come up as my top 5 strengths, so it was a good use of my time.

I then went to the book, reading the opening then the write-ups on my top 5 strengths. For each, there is a brief discussion on it, quotes from a selected people who have the same strength, “ideas for action” on how to leverage this strength, and tips for working with someone else with the same strength. Following reading on my top strengths I read through the remaining 29 strengths defined in the book. After reviewing the entire list and reflecting on all of it, there certainly are others strengths defined which would apply to me, but I am not discounting the top 5 selected as it is a good list to work with.

My takeaway from StrengthsFinder 2.0 is the overall experience that is the book, from the assessment to the discussion on all strengths identified. Although I don’t consider myself an expert at assessing people, I do consider myself a decent judge of character and how to get the most out of people whom I work with. As Gallup is the expert at surveying, this was a great process to see how the questions in the assessment derived this list. The Web site has other tools, including one which allows you to make a poster of your strengths. I have this posted in my office, and glance at as a reminder on occasion.

I recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0 to anyone who is interested in playing to their strengths. It was not a complete life-changing experience for me, rather a good reaffirmation of who I am and what I can do. I do recommend getting a new copy of the book so you can get the code to take the assessment and get the full effect of the book.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Jonathan Livingston Seagull

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, September 05, 2010 at 07:36 AM with 2 comments

Before leaving on a recent trip I went to the shelf at home to grab a few books to read. As I perused the collection put together by myself and my wife, one caught my eye – Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I had heard of the book, but never read it. I remember playing a song in elementary school band based on the book (why I remember that today, I have no idea!). It was my wife’s book, and a small one, so I saw it as a quick read to add to my list for this year.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the story of a seagull who likes to fly, rather than flying as a means to eat as all of the other seagulls believe. As a result, he is an outcast, and is banished from the society of all other seagulls. Where this upsets him, he feels the collective is wrong and continues to work on and improve his flying skills. The story continues with others realizing he is not wrong, but different, and their interactions with Jonathan.

So could I possibly have takeaways on a fictional story about pesky birds? Actually, when compared to many of the books I have read throughout the years and wrote about here at The Hot Iron I most certainly have! And here are my takeaways from this book of prose and photos.

In the end, you have to live with yourself – You may be wrong or you may be right. However in the end, you are the primary person who has to deal with you. If you believe doing or believing in something is the right thing to do, then you must do it, and be prepared to deal with those who don’t agree with you or any circumstances.

What some may consider fringe behavior may not really be – It seems no matter the decision we make, someone will come out and say it is not “normal” or acceptable. We are considered outliers as a result. But getting beyond your closest critics, you will find some who see your actions or decisions to be not so unusual or outside of the norm. Where getting a second or third opinion is always recommended, you may simply need to be surrounding yourself with other likeminded people.

You won’t know if you don’t try – Whether it’s flying from heights no other seagull has flown before or starting your own business, you won’t know if you can or can’t until you try. What some consider taking a great risk may not be that great of a risk at all. The idea of a going outside of your comfort zone may not be that great of a leap of faith at all. Take a look inside of you and you may see something you haven’t seen before.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a quick read, and an inspiring one. This book from the 70’s is timeless, and I recommend it to everyone.


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My Takeaways From The Book Predictable Success

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, August 16, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

Even if there was such a thing as a silver bullet for the success of a business, it would still need to be properly fired. This would require a silver gun and people who could fire the gun accurately to the exact target, whatever that target is, of course. As ideal as that would be, it doesn’t exist and I takes work to get your business to where you want it.

Thinking about where your business is and where you want it to be is the idea behind the book Predictable Success by Les McKeown. I was given a copy to read by the author. In it, the reader is taken through 7 stages of the lifecycle of a business as identified by McKeown with “predictable success” being at the top of the curve, ideally where your business should be. All of McKeown’s 7 states are: Early Struggle, Fun, Whitewater, Predictable Success, Treadmill, The Big Rut and Death Rattle.

As I read Predictable Success, I had many flashbacks to all of the firms I have worked for, and of course my own Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC. In addition to this trip down memory lane, my takeaways from the book are reflective of my experiences, and are:

It’s important to know where your business is - Whether you are joining a business or have been in one, knowing which state the business is in is important to your decision-making there. For management, knowing the state can influence decisions to improve the business. For employees, it can influence your decision to stay or leave a job.

The wrong people can hurt a business - Unfortunately I have seen this one too much personally, where key people in a firm get to a level where many people believe they are irreplaceable and position themselves as such. This can occur to the point where management will work around them to solve problems in the company, even if those people are the real problem.

Some people cannot solve their business’ problems themselves - From small to large, there are some who lead or run a business who don’t have it in to truly do what is needed to correct the problems in their business. Why? There are many reasons, from not realizing there is a problem to being mired in the day-to-day work of the business to pull themselves out to see and do what’s needed to not having the capital they need (whether people and/or money) to make it happen. I’m not trying to be a downer, only realistic. One thing this book does well is outline steps to get to predictable success – so if you have some outline of a plan, it will help you determine if you have what it takes to make things happen, or seek help to do so.

I enjoyed reading Predictable Success. It is written in a no-nonsense, down to business manner and it is, as I said previously, easy to relate to the business stages based on my previous experience, and probably would be the same for you as well. I rate Predictable Success up with The E-Myth Revisited as a guide for businesses who are in a funk, and recommend it to any business owner, even if everthing is going great for them, or so they may think!


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My Takeaways From The Book OUIJA – For The Record

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 02:37 PM with 2 comments

One of the most exciting aspects of the work I do with my Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC is bringing a business or entity to the Web for the first time. A few months back I partnered with design studio Visible Logic, Inc. to launch the Web site for the new book OUIJA – For The Record by D. Lynn Cain. I have talked about the Web site here at The Hot Iron previously, as it is both an attractive and functional Web site, blog and forum.

What was unique about this project was I did not read the book before the Web site went live. Though I knew what the book was about, I didn’t know the full story. When I finished OUIJA – For The Record, I put down a fascinating story about a family who traveled to Afghanistan in the 1960’s as the result of sessions with an Ouija board. Seriously! Where the story may be somewhat far-fetched to some, my only comment to people is to get a copy of the book for yourself, read it, and then form your own opinion.

As with all books I read, including non-fiction and novels, I have a list of takeaways from OUIJA – For The Record, including:

Tell Your Story - Most all of us have a unique story to tell. It may not be about all of our life, perhaps a small period of time. Even if it is not truly unique there will be someone else interested in what you have to say for a variety of reasons. It may be best told as a blog post or straight to a bound book. But tell it.

People Need Something to Believe In - Whether you are always on the move or live a simple life, we all want something to believe in. In the case of the family in OUIJA – For The Record, what they believed in was that they needed to go to the Middle East. Whatever that something is, it may not be even something you are necessarily looking for. What did that wise British philosopher say about not getting what you want, but what you need?

OUIJA – For The Record was a good read about a family that could be your next door neighbor, or yourself. If you like stories about every day people, or even in the paranormal as the Ouija board was a key element in these peoples’ lives, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book.


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